God’s Goal Is Your Character, Not Your Comfort
By Rick Warren
“Take on an entirely new way of life — a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you” (Ephesians 4:22-24 MSG).
Many religions and New Age philosophies promote the old lie that we are divine or can become gods. Let me be absolutely clear: You will never become God or even a god.
This desire to be a god shows up every time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and people around us. But as creatures, we will never be the Creator. God doesn’t want you to become a god; he wants you to become godly, taking on his values, attitudes, and character. We are meant to “take on an entirely new way of life — a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you” (Ephesians 4:22-24 MSG).
God’s ultimate goal for your life on Earth is not comfort but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone.
God created your uniqueness, so he certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. Christlikeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.
God wants you to develop the kind of character described in the Beatitudes of Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit, Paul’s great chapter on love, and Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life (Matthew 5:1-12; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Peter 1:5-8).
Every time you forget that character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?” One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Remember, Earth is not Heaven.
Many Christians misinterpret Jesus’ promise of the “abundant life” (John 10:10) to mean perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, full realization of your dreams, and instant relief from problems through faith and prayer.
In a word, they expect the Christian life to be easy. They expect heaven1 on Earth.
This self-absorbed perspective treats God as a genie who simply exists to serve you in your selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. But God is not your servant, and if you fall for the idea that life is supposed to be easy, you will either become severely disillusioned or you will live in denial of reality.
Never forget that life is not about you! You exist for God’s purposes, not vice versa. Why would God provide heaven on Earth when he’s planned the real thing for you in eternity? God gives us our time on Earth to build and strengthen our character for Heaven.
Talk It Over
- It’s sometimes difficult to see how God is working on our character in the midst of difficult circumstances. What do you think God wants you to do when you don’t understand how he is working in your life?
- How does an eternal perspective — focusing on the reward of Heaven — change how you approach tough times?
- In what ways can your gifts and abilities be more effective when they are aligned with God’s purposes?
1. I’m leaving this lowercase because “heaven on Earth” is a phrase, and the Heaven capitalization rule applies to the actual Heaven — as I read it, anyway. Same with 2 paragraphs later, when it recurs.
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This devotional © 2017 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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